Monday, August 18, 2008

Fujitsu T2010 = Perfect Tablet PC?

I saw a thread on GottaBeMobile recently that was asking for input to the perfect Tablet PC or UMPC that was very interesting. One could surmise that the unique needs of everybody would make it impossible to produce the perfect tablet PC. There were a lot of great ideas there.

For my own needs, I think I found almost all of them in my recently acquired Fujitsu T2010. This seems so far to be an almost perfect answer to my search. I use it for MS Office tools, especially Outlook with the Franklin Covey Plan Plus add-in. I also use OneNote, Visio, and Project. Additional tools include Mindjet MindManager to map thoughts. Finally I do the normal browsing and eBook reading a tablet can be so good at, especially with the PDF Annotator tool from Grahl Software, which allows me to review and markup documents or articles I save from the web.

The factors that are important to me and how it provides for them are below; loosely in the order in which I appreciate or value them.

  1. Performance: I used to do more programming and database work, but now spend most of my time communicating and planning, often on the road. The lesser needs I have for raw power mean that the U7600 Core Duo processor running at 1.2Ghz is adequate for my needs, without generating a lot of heat or more importantly taxing the battery.
  2. Battery life: this is a big issue for me, mainly because I do not want to worry about it, or "make sure I will be near an outlet in 3 hours". This device gets 9-11 hours with the 9 cell battery, and close to 8 with the 6 cell version. That is amazing, and greatly appreciated. To me the holy grail of battery life is a full day of work without plugging in, and this device gets me there, and does it without adding a lot of weight.
  3. Portability: the size of the device is also important and where most people diverge about preferences in the laptop/table PC space. Some want something smaller, and some want larger. My personal preference is a device that offers a keyboard that is easy enough to type on, without making the device so large that weight or dimensions affect portability. The T2010 is a nice size, with a non cramped keyboard, and a 12" WXGA screen. In the convertible type tablet PCs the keyboard size and screen size are directly related. I have a smaller Fujitsu U810 with a 5.7"screen, but it renders the keyboard almost unusable for hands my size. I think anything less than a 10" screen would make the keyboard a limited tool for data entry. The T2010 is about 3.5 lbs with the 9 cell battery, making it a lightweight.
  4. Screen: A tablet is expected to be used at different angles than a regular notebook, often pointing at the fluorescent lighting or direct sun. This makes the ability to see it in bright light important. The T2010 offers an indoor/outdoor screen option which I have. It does improve the readability of the screen in offices, and outdoors, but brightness needs to be at the highest level in order to really see easily.

Overall the Fujitsu T2010 meets my basic needs. Laptop/Tablet preferences are highly personal and subjective, so others may vary in their thoughts on it. I have a client who needed a new notebook recently, and if it had been a desktop, I would have just ordered the appropriate model from an approved list; but after discussion it made more sense for her to go and look at some devices to see which she liked.

Some things I might change about the T2010 include:
  • Add an external hardware speaker control. Using the function key combinations is a hassle.
  • Add a webcam just above the screen
  • Add an internal broadband connection to a 3G network. This is now apparently available, but my model does not have this. Thankfully I can pair it with my AT&T 8525 phone for a high speed connection almost anywhere.
  • Increase the CPU speed; while adequate now more is always nice when the next generation of software comes out. A faster CPU would extend the life of the device.

None of these additional enhancements I may want should affect the battery life; that would be counterproductive for my needs.

I am not sure I can say the T2010 is the perfect PC, but it is very close for my needs at this point in time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Projected Cuts to Information Technology in 2009 - Part 2

I previously posted about an InfoWorld article that reported projected information technology cuts in 2009. These were primarily in the areas of technology infrastructure and talent. My focus is on the talent component: trying to do more with less. We can state this a bit differently if we said "let's get more value for our IT expenditures in the area of talent".

There are many components to measuring value from talent, I stated it generally in describing productivity per dollar spent, i.e. how much can be accomplished when we assign a person at a certain cost to a certain task. There are many more ways to think about this, and that is what I wanted to elaborate on in this post. Because we are primarily an application development firm, my thoughts and examples are centered on that service, but the weight of the arguments can easily cross the lines into other IT skills.

The question then is: What impacts the value delivered?

There are many factors that determine what value should be delivered, is being delivered, and was delivered. Once again: value is the result productivity per dollar spent. While simple, it is not enough to simply look at dollar per hour as the sole measure; the factors that affect productivity must also be considered. These factors include:

Cost per hour - the simplest way to get a real number, but often the most misleading. This factor is enticing because a manager can say they did the hard thing and cut costs, resulting in a line on their annual review. But they may, and often have, at the same time jettisoned the entire other side of factors and put the initiative at risk. This may not be known until long afterwards. The problem with this approach, which some may call doing "more with less", is that it only focuses on the "less", and avoids the important consideration of the "more".

Functionality produced relative to others at a cost - These factors look at the production side; what is being produced in a unit of time? A higher priced member on the team with a corresponding level of talent and experience adds many dimensions, such as:
  • Added value of additional ideas and input gleaned from others - they add to the discussion and provide direction early on, thus improving the rest of the team because of their input and leadership. This positively affects the immediate project goals, and the organization's personnel and long term practices.
  • Reduced Errors or Omissions - The final product will be a higher quality, more reliable offering. This produces two additional benefits, the first of which is the organization's customers are better satisfied. This is especially true for new product launches or competitive markets where initial trust is the key to gaining and holding market share. The second derived benefit is future cost containment. A project's full cost is not known at the end; a "bug" appearing later on can be much more expensive to fix, as well as reducing the confidence of customers.
  • Security Issues - Similar to a bug, a lesser talent may introduce embarrassing security issues; allowing malicious access to organizational or customer data. We had a new company call us a few years ago that used less expensive, less experienced talent to create websites for their very high profile clients. A hacker gained access to the customer's data and the private data the customer's were collecting on the sites. They then attempted to extort the company calling us. We dispatched a team of high quality talent who worked through the weekend to assess the damage, and lock everything down so that future access was cut off. The company handled it well, but did unfortunately lose some credibility in the market place.
  • Increased capabilities to build upon the delivered solution - A lesser talent may develop what appears to be a suitable solution in the development and initial launch environments; but as the organization attempts to leverage it through greater use, they may find it does not perform well, or cannot be extended without significant new costs. The problem is a less experienced talent focuses on the immediate needs, without the vision to know how to also develop a solid base for future scalability. A more experienced person has the needed skills to know how meet both needs, or at least consciously balance the immediate needs and long term prospects. This reduces long term costs and creates greater growth opportunities.
Business Value / Benefits:
To summarize, a business that considers the added benefits above can expect to see:
  • Predictable pattern of production - estimates and time lines will be more reliable, and the entire production will be more stable. This allows an organization to plan and meet customer, shareholder, and compliance commitment more confidently.
  • Increased capabilities to expand market presence and offerings - Not only will the initial product or service be of better quality and more predictable, but the organization can confidently meet future needs through the long term capabilities that are added to the organization and product or service offering. This reduces long term costs and ensures continued market competitiveness.

My firm, Paragon Consulting, has what I believe to be the best methodology for identifying the right type of talent to really add value to a client's team or project. You can read more about it here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vista performance improvement guide

Microsoft has started to attempt to set the record straight about Vista. At a recent partner conference I attended, they acknowledge they have not been very aggressive at responding to the "I'm a Mac" ads that paint Vista as bloated, slow, and hard to use. I have used Vista for about a year now, and was skeptical at first, but can tell you that it works well.

But not all users can agree.

For those who simply misunderstood, and Vista will work well for them but they have been hesitant, Microsoft is gearing up a publicity machine to answer the Mac, and say proudly "I'm a PC".

And for those have tried Vista, and thought it was bloated, slow, and hard to use, Microsoft has published a nice, concise document that explains how to optimize it. The information is not earthshaking, but is conveniently in one place. You can find it here.

Hope it helps. I cannot say with personal evidence that Vista is better than a Mac, but can say it is an improvement over the XP operating system for my needs.